27 3 / 2014

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

Dr. Seuss

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Now that we have that out of the way lets talk about what happing with data and analytics right now.  Basically, in a nutshell it is hot, and everyone wants data, even if they don’t know it.  As a result the buzz words and phrases are out with force.

"Big Data", "Predictive Analytics", "Democratization of Data", "Visualizations", "Gamification of BI"…

So I have been in the space for like 20 years and at this point I need a translator.  But let me take a pass what all this means.

There are boat loads of data and I want it to be crazy simple for me to consume, with the goal of making faster and better decisions.

OK, that can make sense to me, and I am pretty sure that is what most end users of BI and Analytics want.  To be clear I am not taking about analysts or data scientists or report authors.  I am talking about the executives, line managers, road warriors, store managers, and more who are the people that need this data so they can make those quick decisions.  

So what does this have to do with consumer apps?  Well it seems to me that the consumer app providers have already solved this and now the enterprise needs to catch up.  Lets look at a few simple examples.

Weather data is complex and there is a ton of it, also people are addicted to weather information, and for good reason.  It helps them make some great decisions throughout their day or week.

"Should I wear a jacket?"

"Should I bring an umbrella?"

" What about sunblock today?"  

Talk about predictive!

So lets look at some weather data.  Here is a sample of Quality Controlled Local Climatological Data (QCLCD) from one airport.  This is a tiny fraction of what can be accessed for a single location.

http://cdo.ncdc.noaa.gov/qclcd/qclcddlysummary.htm

There is no way I am going to comb through this on a daily basis to find out if I need a jacket or not.  So consumer apps take all the complexity out of this and eliminate the need for me to do any exploration or the need for an ‘author’.

With an app in a few easy swipes or taps I get all the info I need am more.  It is easy to read and the information I need to make my decisions are clear.  This one is Yahoo! Weather and there are many other great options. (This one is my favorite because it is simple and beautiful.)

So lets think about my translation of all those buzz words.  Clearly we are dealing with a lots of complex data but it is given to me in a simple clear way that allows me to make every day analytic decisions.

That makes sense.

Lets take a look at one more consumer craze, there are a bunch of great examples but fitness is one the resonates with me.  Talk about another hot market.  I am told that sitting is the new smoking and consumer purchase in this space are re-enforcing this.  Just do a search on “Activity Monitors” and it will be clear that this is a hot consumer trend.  The market is saturated.

One key point to the success and adoption of this is the data and analytics.    So to simplify, here is how it works, the tracker (the thing you wear or your phone) collects the data and some app or site reports the data.  It varies but it can collect everything, including steps, stairs, heart rate, location, sleep patterns, and more.  Wow, we generate a ton of data!  In fact here is an article on putting FitBit data in R.  If you are not sure what that means then you are an end user, and you really don’t care about the how. That is a good thing!

The app is where the magic happens, all this data is presented to the user in a way that is simple and easily actionable.  Things like:

You walked 9,000 steps and that is short of your daily goal.

You are ranked 5th among you friends today.

You woke up 6 times last night and compared to last week that is up 10%.

As a user you can easily translate all of these into actions like get off your butt, or stop with the Red Bull at 9pm.

There are more great examples of this but I would have to go on forever.  Take a look at apps like Google Now, Human, Fitly, Strava and more. 

Hmmm, maybe everyone is a consumer of BI??

25 3 / 2014

Android devices make up 80% of the worldwide mobile market. So if companies are promoting BYOD to work (bring your own devices), why haven’t we heard anything about Android Business Intelligence (BI) apps?

Matt Milella, a Director of Product Development for Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile Apps, discusses a new Android BI offering and described why Android apps are special, and not just Apple App clones.   

https://blogs.oracle.com/bi_pulse/entry/bi_mobile_what_s_the

20 3 / 2014

By now we all know that iOS 7.1 is available and most of us probably have it installed.  With this update there were also some updates to Xcode.  One change in how architectures are handled impacts our doc on deploying with our Security Toolkit.  

On page 11, step 6 you will need to change the way you select the proper architectures for building the project.

In the newest version of Xcode this is handled a bit differently.  There are 2 settings to change:

  1. Build Active Architecture Only – Set to No
  2. Valid Architectures – armv7 armv7s (remove arm64)

If you do not do this you will get errors like the following when you build:

(null): Linker command failed with exit code 1 (use -v to see invocation)

We will be updating the doc shortly.

13 3 / 2014

OK, it is here!  Check out the new BI Mobile App for Android on the Google Play Store.

  • Make business intelligence as easy to use as any consumer mobile app
  • View, analyze, and act on all your Oracle Business Intelligence content using Android devices.
  • Access new or existing BI content on your mobile device right away; no design changes required
  • Increase the use of business intelligence in your organization with an intuitive and easy-to-use mobile application

Keep in mind this is not an iOS port!  So don’t bother comparing the two feature by feature.  You will find that this version was created with an Android mobile experience in mind and its’ goal is not to replicate the desktop browser product or the iOS version.  Here are some key Android specific features.

  • Android Navigation - Familiar navigation in line with other great Android applications.

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  • Card layout for content in favorites, recent, and the catalog  along with great previews.

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  • Advanced search including Voice and Voice Commands

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  • Android Beam (NFC) Tap to Share

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  • Broad Device Support Android Jelly Bean (4.1) and above.  This includes phones, tablets and phablets.

If you are an android user check it out and let us know what you think!

13 3 / 2014

I am not sure if this is what they mean by the ‘Gamification of BI’, but it’s fun to play with either way.

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Anyway download our new Android App. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.oracle.obi

24 1 / 2014

A video tutorial for creating a new Xcode 5.x project using the Oracle BI Mobile HD Security Toolkit.

This video goes along with our document for the Security Toolkit that can be found here:

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/bi-enterprise-edition/building-the-bi-mobile-hd-app-1993081.pdf

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/bi-enterprise-edition/downloads/bi-mobile-security-toolkit-1872818.html

21 1 / 2014

Opinions expressed by the authors of this blog are entirely their own and do not reflect the position of Oracle or any other corporation. Any advice or recommendations discussed on these sites (or sites they link to) are not validated by Oracle.

Decided to show off this feature we are working on in the labs with a video.  Really, this is a great use case for BI and NFC.  We have all been in the meeting where we have to email url’s to get on the same page.  Not anymore.

Coming Soon!

17 1 / 2014

Wednesday night the latest version of BI Mobile HD was updated on the Apple App Store.  For users of Apple devices with iOS7 this update probably went unnoticed, as it was likely auto-updated, and very little has changed in at the surface.  This update did how ever include many stability and bug fixes. 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/oracle-business-intelligence/id534035015?mt=8

For those deploying to an enterprise app store our latest mobile security toolkit is also available.  This version supports Xcode5 and iOS7.   I would consider this a significant update, so be sure to read the document prior to creating your new project.

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/bi-enterprise-edition/downloads/bi-mobile-security-toolkit-1872818.html

02 12 / 2013

You may have noticed a new BI Mobile HD update over the weekend, and if you upgraded you will notice that it is mostly is about iOS7.   There were a number of bug fixes to make sure things look and work correctly with iOS7, but there is one cool feature you may not notice out of the gate:

You can now open BI Mobile App Designer content in the HD app.  So why is this cool?

  1. Users can now consume ‘traditional’ dashboards along side purposeful apps.
  2. Users can launch MAD Apps with a native client instead of in the browser.
  3. Your IT organization can create a secure Mobile HD distribution using the BI Mobile HD Security Toolkit, and MAD Apps can be consumed using the secure client.

So how does it work?

  1. Open MAD Apps just like you would a dashboard (search or browse).
  2. Favorite MAD Apps and have them displayed as a favorite next to other MAD Apps or ‘traditional’ dashboards.
  3. Mobile HD toolbars get out of the way when you open a MAD App.  Just tap the status bar or swipe from the left to get the HD menus back.

05 11 / 2013

I often hear this statement from customers:

I am planning on deploying the BI Mobile HD application but I want to make it really easy for our end users and I don’t want them to have to type any server details.

So here is a quick lesson on how to do just this.  Our end goal is to get to an email that looks something like this:

So how do we get here.  The first part is easy, get your users to install our application from the Apple App Store.  Really don’t over think this, your users already know how to do this.  In fact, their 3 year old kids know how to do this.

OK you can also make it really easy and just provide the link.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/oracle-business-intelligence/id534035015

When opened on the device the user will see something like this, and they will have to tap install (mine says open because it is already installed).

Now comes the part where you will have to do a bit of work, the configuration.  For this you need to create an XML file that describes the server connections you want and some key settings. 

<plist version=”1.0”>
<dict>
<key>obim</key>
<dict>
<key>servers</key>
<array>
<dict>
<key>analyticsPath</key>
<string>/analytics/saw.dll</string>
<key>host</key>
<string>hostname.company.com</string>
<key>locale</key>
<true/>
<key>name</key>
<string>Friendly Server Name</string>
<key>port</key>
<integer>7780</integer>
<key>ssl</key>
<false/>
<key>sso</key>
<false/>
<key>xmlpPath</key>
<string>/xmlpserver</string>
</dict>
<dict>
<key>analyticsPath</key>
<string>/analytics/saw.dll</string>
<key>host</key>
<string>newhostname.company.com</string>
<key>locale</key>
<true/>
<key>name</key>
<string>Friendly Server Name 2</string>
<key>port</key>
<integer>7780</integer>
<key>ssl</key>
<false/>
<key>sso</key>
<false/>
<key>xmlpPath</key>
<string>/xmlpserver</string>
</dict>
</array>
<key>settings</key>
<dict>
<key>debug</key>
<false/>
<key>optimized</key>
<true/>
</dict>
</dict>
</dict>
</plist>

Does it look scary?  It is not, it is really 2 sections and  here is a link to a sample you can download that has detailed comments.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/42112990/work/Configurations/conf.xml

To turn this file into a link that a user can tap you need to first host this on some sort of HTTP server.  Dropbox and other services work fine as long as their are no redirects and no ‘special’ file viewers.  For Dropbox you need to put it in your public folder and use the public link.  Also make sure the link will be accessible on the users device.  

http://myserver.mycompany.com/config.xml

Once this is done you need to form the device URL and send it to the user as a link.  To do this you need to prefix your XML file link with the following.

oraclebimobile://com.oracle.obimobile/configure?xml=

The the entire link would look something like this:

oraclebimobile://com.oracle.obimobile/configure?xml=http://myserver.mycompany.com/config.xml

A few caveats for now:

  1. This only adds servers, and is keyed off the host name so if the user already has a server with the same host name it will not add the server.
  2. The XML file must be hosted on a http server you cannot point to a file system. 
  3. The URL to the XML file must be accessible on the device where the user is launching this link from.

Good Luck and Happy Deployment!!